Hmmm… It was tough attempting to explain what todays blog post is about in the title, mainly because I wanted to vent my spleen and make it relvant at the same time… I was alerted to a story in the South Yorkshire Star newspaper whereby a hypnotherapist has been regressing himself to uncover memories that are forming part of his book…

If anything has been repressed and uncovered here… It was some majorly repressed idiocy, in my opinion.

This hypnotherapy article states:

HYPNOTHERAPIST Neil Murphy found the perfect way to dig into his past when he was researching his autobiography. He hypnotised himself!

Waiting until all was quiet late at night, he would wrap himself in a couple of duvets to create a womb-like atmosphere.

Neil, of Keppel Road, Scholes, near Rotherham, said: “It worked beautifully.

” It would take a few minutes to enter deep trance and as I began talking, my voice-activated tape recorder would switch on.

Personally, when using self-hypnosis, I advise and teach people to avoid dealing with the past in self-hypnosis… All of you students of mine know this, all those of you that have read any half decent book on the subject know this… The hypnotherapist in this article seemingly knows this because the article continues to say:

But the trip down memory lane was not without its dangers.

“Hypnotherapy, particularly regression, can help but it must be carried out with the utmost care. My clients would occasionally become locked into the world they were visiting, unwilling or unable to come out of a trance.

“The risk when putting yourself into a deep hypnotherapeutic state is that you might also get locked in with no one to bring you out. This did happen to me on a few occasions and it was very frightening.

Why on earth are you promoting the notion in a newspaper article then? Why do it? Why continue? The article goes on…

“Most people will have had an intense dream carry on after waking. It is unpleasant but is usually past in a minute. My nightmare continued for perhaps an hour.

“On one occasion I became so desperate I dragged myself out of bed and into the garden. Here in the early hours I stripped off and lowered myself into our fish pond. The cold water shocked me back into reality.

What? Is this for real?? … I am searching for a punchline of some sort… You are openly telling us that you took yourself into hypnosis and you belive that the only way to terminate it, was to nakedly stroll into your garden pond!??! You truly believe that hypnosis was responsible for your nightmare?? What nonsense… Yet, it continues to say:

“It gave me confidence to allow myself to go ever deeper into the regression analysis with some startling results. Events, conversations and descriptions of scenes from those war years poured out.”

It was like completing a jigsaw from which pieces had been missing.

When he was nine he supplied information about boat movements in Cork harbour to Fifth Columnists aiding the Germans, who hoped to use Ireland as a back door to attack England.

He eventually turned himself in and was deported on the personal involvement of Irish Prime Minister Eamon De Valera.

The book continues with exploits in Sheffield. Many memories slipped from Neil’s mind but hypnosis helped bring them back.

Let me offer up some quotations from a couple of authors who fiercely dismiss the notion of repressed memories:

There is no controlled laboratory evidence supporting the concept of repression. (Holmes 1990, p 96)

Laboratory studies… Have failed to demonstrate that individuals can ‘repress’ memories. CLinical studies… must start with the null hypothesis: namely, repression does not occur.
(Pope and Hudson 1995, p 125)

After years of research into the issue I have yet to find even one convincing case of massive repression or massive dissociation. (Prendergrast 1999, p 54)

Yet our Hypnotherapist in Rotherham states in the Star newspaper:

“The mind can play strange tricks with people so they can forget very traumatic experiences.

There are many of even the most sceptical cognitive behavioural, evidence based hypnotherapists who agree that past experiences often do culminate in restructuring behaviour and contributing to phobias and anxiety responses, that is not really the point of my blog today.

Aside from the ptoential problems that regression brings in the form of possible retraumatisation of issues and painful experiences from the past, as well as issues raised in some of the biggest litigation cases in US and European psychiatric history in the field of false memory syndrome… All of which raise issues for the efficacy and ethics of ‘regression’ in therapy… There is this notion I have written about before that seems to permeate so much thinking in the field of hypnotherapy whereby things get nominalised.

That is, it is more accurate to speak of the activity of remembering rather than talking about having things called ‘a memory’. This notion is explained in more depth in a January blog entry of mine here.

There is a very large case discussed in much academic writing about the accuracy of recounting memories in this way and that the memories seem to get reconstructed in inaccurate ways depending on the mood and current mindset of the person, in fact many people make a connection between so called repression and self-deception (Coe and Sarbin 1991).

There is little evidence to suggest that raising these so-called repressed feelings and venting them is actually of any therapeutic value, but that really is a discussion for another day and another blog…

It is just this notion that someone who claims to be a hypnotherapist of 30 years experience is openly suggesting how useful it was to hypnotise himself to uncover ‘repressed memories’… Whilst simultaneously telling of how he walked into his fish pond to bring himself out of one of his more traumatic episodes… ???

There is no actual empirically supported evidence anywhere to suggest that hypnosis can be responsible for such experiences. None at all. I am open to change my mind if someone shows me some… And no, that does not mean you can describe some subjective experience you had whilst smoking something in a cave with a guy who told you he was a shaman doing hypnosis…

Maybe this is his way of making his book more interesting and a way of generating sales… To me, it is idiocy based on anecdotal supposition and is promoting desperately unhealthy uses of self-hypnosis.  I cpould go on, but shan’t… (Exhales deeply)… I had hoped to write about the World Cup today, but I’d only end up moaning about Englands first game and how those vuvuzelas are making football more like tinnitus…